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The most difficult and time-consuming part: the quiet book cover

Let me begin with an apology.  It’s now been a month and a half since I’ve finished Nolan’s quiet book and I’m hoping that exactly how I made the cover will all come flooding back to me just by looking at these photos. Wishful thinking, I know.  So bear with me, please!

I also want to add that this is the 4th quiet book cover I’ve made.  Each time it gets slightly easier and much nicer.  Here are the blogs that I used as a reference when making my first cover:  Oopsey DaisyElisa Loves and Crafting Chicks.  I didn’t refer to them at all this time, but I used them a ton the first (and second) time around.  They will probably be ten times more helpful than I could ever dream of being!

These are the things I definitely wanted on this cover:

  1. handles
  2. an inside pocket
  3. a “spine”
  4. a strap closure
  5. “Nolan’s Quiet Book” written on the cover

With all that in mind I chose my fabrics (red and white checkered for the outside and a plain white inside) and got started!

I always wait until my pages are finished, sewed together and punched before making the cover.  The very first one I made was a tad bit too small and I never want to make that mistake again.  Which is also why I always end up wasting a ton of fabric.  But better safe than sorry!

So I started off by putting my pages together in a nice, neat pile.  I unfolded both cover fabrics, laid one on top of the other (doesn’t matter which way…yet!) and set the pages inside.  I folded the fabric over top of the pages and then cut a giant rectangle out.  I went way overboard, cutting at least 6 inches more than necessary on the top, bottom and each side.  I just wanted to make sure that there was enough for the seam allowance and that all of the pages would be completely inside of the cover.  Plus I wanted to leave some extra room in case Amanda adds more pages in later.

Then I cut out two pieces of the same lightweight sew-in interfacing I used on each quiet book page (see the post where I finished the pages for more information).  Well actually I have a ton of random scraps lying around, so I used those instead of having to cut out two giant pieces (you’ll see the scraps a bit farther down in the post).  I covered each fabric with the pieces and pinned them on.  I set them aside.

Next I cut out all of the necessary pieces for my wishlist.

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I decided to make the pocket on the back inside cover, so I cut a large rectangle out of the checkered fabric.  I didn’t have a particular use for it; I just knew it was handy to have at least one pocket on the cover for any loose pieces that don’t get anchored into the book.  Like if I would’ve realized that the windmill for the barn page wasn’t staying in, I would’ve put it in there.  Oh well, hindsight is always 20/20!  I made this one really large…no idea on the size of it, of course…but it takes up most of the back cover.  I folded all of the raw edges inside, ironed them and sewed just the top down (the other ones would get sewn in once it was attached to the page).  I cut out a piece of red velcro and set it all with the cover pieces.

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Next, the handles.  I decided to make them with the checkered fabric, although either one would have worked.  I used one of the leftover strips from when I trimmed my insanely-sized cover and experimented with it to find a length I liked.  Obviously I have no idea how long I went with, but if you look at the first picture you can see they’re longer than the pocket.  Sorry!  Just play around with it and find a good size!  You can also see in the above picture that my handles aren’t the same size.  Width or length.  I figured I could just tuck the longer one inside the cover more…or something.  Let me reiterate that I am NOT an expert…not even close!

Now the fabric I was using was really flimsy so I decided to put some interfacing inside of the handles to give them some stability.  I used some scraps of lightweight iron-on fusible web that I had laying around from a previous project.  I cut two of them thin enough to go in the middle of each strap and then folded the raw fabric edges over and ironed it all down.

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Then I folded the entire rectangle in half the hotdog way (so it’s tall and skinny, not short and fat).  I ironed it again and then sewed along the three edges (skipping the fold).  I repeated the same method for the other strap.  I set both aside with my other pieces.

The spine was next.  I wanted a contrasting piece of binding on the inside and outside of the cover.  Because I wanted to make the spine pretty rigid so it would feel more like an actual book, I used a much heavier interfacing on this part–Pellon 808.  So the measurements for the interfacing was the important part.  The fabric pieces just had to be bigger than the interfacing so I could fold all of the raw edges inside.   Laying out the cover, I guesstimated how long to cut the spines.  I cut two rectangles from the 808 that were approximately 14 x 1.

I used more leftover scraps from trimming the cover for each of the spine pieces.  That’s why the red one is so much larger than the white.  Like I said earlier, it doesn’t matter what size the fabric itself is, just as long as it’s bigger than the interfacing.

Quiet Book Cover Binding

I put the interfacing in the center of each spine piece, folded all of the raw edges inside and ironed everything down.  I set those pieces in my growing pile.

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Last but not least, the strap.  I cut a fat rectangle out of the white (I figured since the handles were red it would look nicer if the strap was white).  I’m super sorry but I have absolutely no idea what the dimensions are for it.  To figure out how long to make it, I opened up the cover piece, set the pages inside where they were going to sit and folded the top of the cover over the pages.  Then I used my measuring tape to see how long the strap would need to be.  I didn’t want to make it too small (in case more pages were added; the book needed to be able to expand), but not too loose either (otherwise it would lose its effectiveness).  And, like the straps, I figured that I could tuck however much I needed into the book before sewing it down to adjust the length better later on.  Turns out I made it just the right length…I only tucked enough inside to make sure it was connected to the book!

I also wanted the strap to be rigid so I used the 808 again.  I used a leftover scrap from a previous project, which is why it was a lot smaller than the fabric.  It turned out just fine though!  I folded and ironed the raw edges inside.  Then I folded the rectangle in half the hot dog way and ironed it so I could see exactly where the halfway mark was.  I opened it up and set the 808 in the middle of the bottom half of white fabric.  Then I folded it closed and ironed it shut.  Then I sewed the edges shut (once again skipping the folded edge).  I also cut off a piece of white velcro and set all of that aside.  Now my extra pieces were ready!

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Time for the logistical nightmare:  figuring out what order to sew everything on.  I started with the pocket, figuring it was the easiest.  I opened my white (inside) fabric up and laid it flat.  I set the quiet book pages on one half in the approximate location they’ll go when the book is open and Nolan is looking at the last page.  Then I set the pocket so it was as in-the-middle of the page as it was going to get just by eyeballing everything.  I detached the velcro and pinned one piece on the white fabric and its matching half onto the pocket.  I sewed each of those down first.  Then I placed the pocket back onto the cover and pinned it in place.  I stitched around the edge, leaving the top open (obviously) and reinforcing the top inch of the stitch a billion times on both sides.  As you can see it turned out a bit crooked but whatever.  At least it was on and out of the way!

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It made the most sense to do the spine next.  Since I already had white in the machine I figured I would do the outside spine first.  Plus I still hadn’t decided how I was going to attach the rings on the inside yet so that gave me a bit more time to procrastinate that.  I folded my cover in half to find the middle and then laid the spine in that vicinity.  It didn’t have to be exact.  I placed it so there was about an equal amount of red checkered fabric on the top and bottom.  That way once I sewed it all together and flipped it right side out, the spine *should* be mostly in the center.  I pinned it on the outside cover and sewed it on.

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Okay, the inside.  When I made J’s ABC quiet book last year I lucked out when I went to put the rings in.  The fabric I used for the cover was a type of wool so I was able to just poke the binder rings right through it!  How lucky was that??  I tried that again this time, but no dice.  I still don’t have the slightest idea how to sew buttonholes (which is the way a few quiet book blogs recommend) and I didn’t want to try that on someone else’s quiet book just in case it didn’t work.  Plus I didn’t really have the time to learn how to do something new–I was definitely in a time crunch.  So I decided to use ribbon like I did for J’s original quiet book.  The only white I already had on hand had purple polka dots on it…definitely not ideal.  Fortunately I discovered that if I flipped it over you could barely see the polka dots.  Good enough for a 1 year old!  It was nice too because it was a thicker ribbon, which would make it easier to sew so on, and sturdier too.

I lined up the inside and outside covers, with the inside one on top.  Then I laid the red checkered spine on the white inside cover, matching it up with the outside spine.  I pinned it down and sewed it on.  Then I had to switch my thread back to white (ugh!!) and got started on the ribbon.

I needed to leave 3 gaps in the ribbon–one for each binder ring to slide through.    And they had to be lined up just right or else I was going to have to rip out some stitches, which I hate doing even more than changing out thread.  I started by pinning my ribbon in the middle(ish) of the red checkered spine.  Then I lined up my pages exactly where they were going to go on the spine.  I pushed two pins in:  one at the top of the first ring and the other at the bottom of the top ring.  I moved the pages out of the way and looked at the pin locations.  I didn’t want the gaps too big or else the pages would wobble.  To mark exactly where I wanted to sew, I pushed two pins into just the red spine slightly above and slightly below the marker pins.  This is where using the checkered fabric came in really handy–it was so simple to sew straight across there and know exactly how big my space was without measuring anything!  I marked the next two gaps the exact same way.

I started in the upper left corner of the ribbon, sewed across the top, down the right side until I got to my pin, across, and finally back up the top, ended at my point of origin.  I cut the thread and moved the fabric up to my second marker pin.  I started in the new top corner, sewed across the ribbon, all the way down along the edge to my next marker pin, across the ribbon and all the way back up to my second origin point.  Quiet-Book-Cover-Binding-6I spread the cover flat on the floor and slid the top binder ring in place.  I wanted to make sure that the gap was not-too-big and not-too-small before I sewed the rest of them.  And that everything was still lined up okay.  Holy cow, it was perfect…nothing short of a miracle!

I repeated the same steps above for the other two gaps.  I made sure to slide both the top and middle rings in before finishing the bottom.  It was a very tedious process but I didn’t have to rip out any stitches and it worked, so the time spent was well worth it.

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The way I figured, one set of handles and the strap were all going to need to be sewn on the same side, so I would leave a gap in the other side to flip the cover right side out.  I could pin it all in to figure out the placement and then start sewing.  First, though, I needed to place the velcro for my strap onto the cover.  I found the center of the cover and slid the strap in where it would eventually go on the back side.  Then I folded it over as if closing the cover and pinned each piece of velcro so they would line up–one on the cover and one on the strap.  I quickly sewed them both on.

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I laid the cover right sides together.  Then I slid the handles and straps in their spots between the layers.  I pinned them on, making sure everything was tucked INSIDE of the layers (you’ll see what happens if they’re on the outside in just a minute) and that the handles weren’t twisted.  I just estimated where the handles were going and then matched them up the best I could on each side.  They’re probably about 6 inches from the top and bottom.  In order to make the handles as long as possible, I only tucked about a half an inch in between the layers.  For the strap I tested it out to see how long it should be in order to match up with the velcro on the front.  If I remember correctly there was only about a half an inch tucked in on that as well.  Just enough to keep it secure in the book.  And by tucking the handles and strap in between the layers you don’t have to worry about the raw edges or it looking funny.  But sewing them on after the cover is put together would also work…whatever you’re comfortable with!

Then I pinned the cover pieces together.  I sewed the entire way around the cover, starting on the left side right above top handle and went the entire way around until I got to right below where the bottom handle was going to go.  I didn’t stitch the front handles down at all.  I went over the back handle and strap over and over and over again–I didn’t want them to pull out of the book at any point.  Since I had so much extra fabric I used a 1 inch margin the entire way.

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So the first time I attempted the cover things didn’t quite go according to plan.  I placed everything were I wanted it, pinned it down, sewed around the cover and then turned it right side out.  And then I realized that something was very very VERY wrong.  See if you can spot the problem:

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I mean really it’s only a problem if Nolan wants to open his quiet book up and actually use it…otherwise it’s FINE!  Looking back on it now, I can’t even figure out how on earth I sewed it like that.  I have absolutely no idea how I attached the handles that way and why I thought that was the correct way to do it.  I was unbelievably mad at myself.  I was SO CLOSE to being able to finish the quiet book without having to pull out the seam ripper!  That would have been a new record!!  That and I had reinforced the handles about a bajillion times so I really wasn’t looking forward to having to pry the seams out.  On the plus side it didn’t end up being nearly as difficult to rip the handles out as I thought it was going to be.

I’m not sure why, but I didn’t flip the quiet book wrong side out and fix them that way.  I don’t know if it was because I couldn’t do it that way without ripping out the entire seam and starting from scratch, or if I was just too lazy.  Or maybe I left the strap in place instead of ripping that out?  And just ripped the seam enough to be able to pull out the handles?  Man I wish I had a better memory…  I could be here all day trying to figure it out and still not have the slightest clue!

Regardless of my reasoning, I left the cover right side out, ripped the seams so I could pull the handles and strap out, slid the ends on the same handle into the slots, folded the raw edges inside of the cover, ironed it all down to help keep it in place and then sewed everything back on correctly.  Since I was using two different fabrics I put the red thread in the main part of my machine and white in the bobbin.  It mostly worked…some of the white peeked through the red, so you can see some of it on the outside fabric.  Only if you look closely though. (Hey, I’ll tell myself whatever I want to feel better!)

Unfortunately I didn’t do the best repair job.  I had to rip the entire side seam out (well almost the whole thing) and when I pinned everything on and went to sew there was some extra fabric leftover somehow.  And as you can see if you look closely, I definitely didn’t sew in a straight line.  Not even close.  Luckily this is the back of the cover so I figured that no one will notice it anyway.  And it definitely didn’t bother me enough to rip it out and try it again!  The kid can actually open the book up now so I was going to take what I could get!

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I turned the book wrong sides out again and trimmed the entire way around the ridiculous 1 inch margin so it was much closer to the seam.  Then I flipped it back out for the last time.  I spread it flat on the ironing board and ironed the whole thing to get all of the the wrinkles out and smooth down the edges.

Now the gap!  I folded the raw edges inside of the cover and ironed them shut.  Then I pinned each end of my handle where the stitch started/ended, tucking the ends in between the layers.  Then I sewed it shut, once again using the red thread in the top of the machine and white in the bobbin to help it blend in a bit better.  Wasn’t perfect, but it would do.

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And then the piece de resistance:  the letters!  I used my Silhouette machine to size them, loaded the same white fabric into the machine that I used for the inside of the cover and had it cut them all out for me.  I peeled them off of the Heat n Bond, placed them on the cover and ironed them on.

Voila, the cover is FINISHED!  Definitely far from perfect, but I really like the way it turned out.  Especially since I finished the entire project the day before they were showing up!  That gave me nap the next day to clean up my extraordinary mess.  I couldn’t have planned that any better if I had tried.

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